Plain City Ponders Village’s 2023 Budget

PLAIN CITY – The Plain City Village Council Monday heard on its first reading the village’s proposed budget for the year 2023.

Most of the budget was outlined to the council at its most recent work session, but Council Member Frank Reed objected at Monday’s meeting that the 2023 budget does not include a line item for ‘community support’, of which there was one for $20,000 in the 2022 budget.

While Mr. Reed said that the $20,000 appropriation for the year 2022 was perhaps excessive, he expressed his desire to have the village again put some monies aside in the 2023 budget for ‘community support’ purposes. The budget, which is still being revised and updated, will be up for a public hearing and a final vote at the next scheduled meeting.

In other new business before the village council Monday, ordinances introduced on the first reading included an amendment for water and sewer rates for the village, an ordinance authorizing the village administrator to award the contract for the Uptown Streetscape Project to Danbert, Inc. and declaring an emergency and a waiver of a second reading, a resolution accepting the Compensation Plan Update and a resolution amending the village’s Citizen Recognition Police and Award applications.

On the matter of declaring an emergency and waiving a second hearing regarding the award of the Uptown Streetscape Project, Council Member Reed voted no at first, which killed the emergency measure as according to the village’s charter, a total of five votes of the council are needed to declare an emergency and waive a hearing. Council Member John Rucker was absent Monday, leaving Council with a 4-1 vote, which effectively torpedoed the emergency declaration. (Note: Plain City Village Council has six members and the mayor votes only if there is a tie, so Mayor Jody Carney had no vote on this matter at Monday’s meeting.)

Mr. Reed explained that he objected to the use of ARPA funds – which were given to communities during the pandemic – being used for the Streetscape Project, saying those monies could perhaps be put to better use elsewhere in the village, especially in regard to infrastructure.

But after some discussion in which it was made clear that the measure would certainly pass on the second reading at the next meeting, and that time was of the essence in getting the contract signed, Mr. Reed relented and himself proposed a motion to re-open the voting. This was done and the measure passed with a 5-0 vote, approving the emergency and waiving the hearing, allowing Village Administrator Haley Lupton to sign the contract with Danbert, Inc. as soon as necessary.

In other new business, ordinances that were introduced on the first reading include one adjusting the water and sewer rates for the village beginning in March 2023, a resolution of accepting the determinations of Compensation Plan update and a resolution regarding the village Recognition Award applications.

In other legislative action, the Council had the second reading of an ordinance which will amend sections 1327.10 and 1327.11 of the codified ordinances, which passed with a 4-1 vote, Mr. Reed voting no on the measure as he objected to the final sentence of the ordinance, which he feels confines the Council’s powers to specific procedures for conducting hearings on appeals of the village’s Design Review Board. Other actions included approving the vacation of a public alley within the village between Main Street and Bigelow Avenue and an ordinance establishing a community monument easement and maintenance agreement for the Clock Tower at 101 S. Chillicothe St. It was made clear that this legislation is an easement only and will give the village the right to access, repair and upgrade the iconic Clock Tower as it sees fit and no transfer of real property has taken place. Both measures passed with 5-0 votes.

Two public hearings were also held during Monday’s meeting. The first was for proposed overhaul to Part Eleven of the village’s code, which concerns zoning, planning and mapping of the city. It has been a huge undertaking for the village and, while was up for a first reading Monday, it was generally agreed that a number of what were characterized as “minor” changes in the language of the ordinance need to be addressed. The proposal was withdrawn, and the language of the ordinance will continue to be worked on and updated before being reintroduced for a first reading at future meeting.

The second public hearing regarded an ordinance covering nuisance and property maintenance, and no comments were received either from the public or the Council.

Prior to the reading of the ordinances, Heather Dougherty of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources addressed the Council and praised it for it’s focus on helping keep the Darby Creek Scenic River pristine and in its natural state, even while the population continues to explode in the area. Ms. Dougherty works with the Scenic River program and has sat in on local planning and zoning meetings and gave plaudits to both the Council and to the village for their commitment to protecting, as Ms. Dougherty said, “One of the most outstanding natural features in central Ohio.”

The Plain City Village Council will meet again into regular session Monday, November 28 at 6:30 p.m.

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